It's hard to imagine spending thousands on a road bike if you don't have all the required resources. So, I gathered the best bikes for casual riding.
Cycling is a fun and fantastic destresser, but for you, the fun and relaxation might be taking it leisurely around the block on a comfortable bike that can burn rubber if you feel like chasing the sun.
The best bikes for casual riding are:
- Cannondale Treadwell EQ Remixte
- Aventon Level
- Schwinn Wayfarer Cruiser
- Co-op Cycles CTY 2.1 Step-through
- Cannondale Quick Disk 3
- Giant ToughRoad SLR 2
- Boardman Hybrid 8.8
- Specialized Roll Low-Entry
- Marin Larkspur 2
You now have a list of the most inviting bikes for your occasional cruise; what now? Well, you plant your heels and peruse each suggestion carefully. I've taken the greatest care to weigh all the most relevant metrics to help you pick the best bike for yourself.
Look, I'm just a cycling enthusiast that likes reading and researching bikes; I'm no expert. So, I've stalked more educated enthusiasts and experienced reviewers in hobbit holes like bicycling-dot-com, bikeradar, cyclingweekly, and others.
9 Best Bikes For Casual Riders
The first thought that comes to mind for this category is bikes like beach cruisers. That's for sound reasoning because beach cruisers are comfortable and exude leisure. However, they are often heavy and not the most fun vehicles to ride.
After carefully mulling on those points, I came up with bikes that retain the comfort of a cruiser through a more upright geometry while retaining all the modern luxuries that we've come to expect from our bikes.
The logical conclusion was hybrid bikes. You might know them as fitness bikes, but hybrid bikes are hybrids because they come in many shapes and forms. I broke through the surface to bring hybrids that retain the speed of a fitness bike and the comfort and leisure of an urban cruiser.
Simply, these bikes don't demand your devotion; you can come and go and use them as you please. They mimic everything lovely about urban cruisers without deadlocking you to the granny lane. They are there if you want to ride slow behind the setting sun or when you feel like chasing down your demons.
1. Cannondale Treadwell EQ Remixte
If it's the style and comfort you are after, please bid on the Treadwell EQ Remixte. Cannondale's Treadwell EQ Remixte offers a sturdy and light aluminum frame and fork that should easily stand the test of time.
Even as a casual rider, you must always check if a bike comes with hydraulic disc brakes or if the rim is compatible with aftermarket customization. The Treadwell does come fully kitted-out with Tektro HD-R280 hydraulic disc brakes on 160mm rotors.
This commendable stopping power is not only a great added security measure for quick stops but is reliable enough during wet days. Cannondale created the bike to flourish on city roads and congested streets because of its fluid handling and the entry-level Shimano Altus 9-speed shifters.
The bike comes with bearing fenders and a front rack capable of holding up 22 pounds, these additions further push the bike's versatility. The diving top-tube design makes for a step-through bike frame you cannot ignore.
Although the bike is home on the tarmac, the 650b x 47 c Maxxis DTR-1 tires don't drown when taken offroad. Despite the Remixte being the luxury head in the Treadwell range, the 38t chainring and 11-36t cassette offer no resistance in maintenance and are surprisingly capable on inclines.
2. Aventon Level
The Aventon Level is value for money as it not only provides a commuter bike with decent specs for an entry-level electric bike. The 40-mile riding range also makes the bike great for leisurely rides around town without fear of running the battery empty.
The Level can also haul up steep hills with its peak power of 750W from its rear hub motor, but it maintains 500W of power for cruising, which is more than enough for most people. Unfortunately, the e-bike doesn't have a torque sensor to improve power delivery, especially for heavier riders.
The 5-level padel assist also helps squeeze as much mileage out of this steed. Although there are some manufacturing falters regarding the 62 pounds of the bike's weight and the inconvenient battery integrated into the bike's down tube, the electric bike doesn't need to be in motion to crank the throttle.
You can hit up to 28 mph on pedal assist and 20 mph on just the throttle, but getting the bike going can sometimes be a mission when sitting on the saddle. Maybe to make up for the battery you can't separate from the bike, you can remove the throttle for people with strict local laws.
3. Schwinn Wayfarer Cruiser
If you want to talk about affordability, style, and decent manufacturing, then there aren't many cruising bikes that can match Schwinn.
The Wayfarer Cruiser is a well-crafted Shimano 7-speed seaside companion with a geometry that promotes an upright position and rising, swept-back handlebars that are easy to maneuver.
The 700x35c tires are perfect for slow and fast riding and are better quality than other Schwinn bikes. The 18-inch rigid steel frame sits between a true cruiser and a modern hybrid bike, and the rest of the framework and the other components are built with sturdy steel.
Although the $369.99 price is a significant incentive to buy into the Schwinn lifestyle, if you can part with a few more hundred dollars, you could get a different cruiser from our list that comes from a much more reliable brand.
Also, I wasn't overly thrilled with the limited 7-speed gear spread, especially on roads with a challenging incline.
The Shimano Tourney rear derailleur also failed to jazz up the rest of the bike's shortcomings. To be honest, the Wayfarer made it onto our list because of its charming looks. Finding an affordable and aesthetically pleasing hybrid cruiser like this one is challenging.
I reckon the robust steel should last you many years, so investing another $300 into upgrading to a higher quality groupset will be a bargain for such a beauty. Even installing all Shimano Tourney components would add tremendous value to the bike.
4. Co-op Cycles CTY 2.1 Step-through
Unlike its rigid frame CTY 1.1 predecessor, the CTY 2.1 has a 63 mm travel for its front suspension. Co-op Cycles replaced the CTY 1.1 aluminum fork with the SR Suntour Nex DS, super comfortable, responsive, and screams style.
The hardtail cruiser-hybrid bike is a perfect union between that '70s vintage bike silhouette you love to flaunt and the hybrid practicality I've all come to enjoy.
Being only $150 more expensive than the CTY 1.1, this bike has slightly improved, like the Tektro HD-M275 hydraulic disc brakes instead of the Tektro M300 mechanical disc. Although these hydraulic discs are similar to the entry-level Shimano M315 brakes, they tend not to get the same amount of love even though they are just as reliable.
Also, some people seem not to be fazed by the weight of 32 pounds and 9 ounces of the bike, but I thought it could be a tad lighter, but I don't mind the added heft if it means I get some cushioning from suspension.
However, all of the components of this bike are entry-level, from the mostly Shimano Altus groupset to the so-so Joytech front and rear hub. The bike will give you beautiful cruises around town but don't expect it to take you to the moon.
The Kenda Kick-Back 700x40c with a reflective sidewall doesn't only provide a bit of visibility, but they are gritty and plump enough to not only provide the traction you need on both tarmac and offroad but also damper those road bumps.
5. Cannondale Quick Disk 3
The Quick Disk 3 is made for laidback Saturday cruises without compromising on the speed and quality of the ride. Steering on the bike is super responsive and complements the overall lightness of the bike. Cannondale has mostly stayed true to its quality craftsmanship.
I especially liked the sturdiness of the build and the use of Cannondale's SmartForm C3 alloy, which helped keep costs low and saved the frame's beauty from being swallowed by aggressive butting knurly welds.
Cannondale also integrated their SAVE engineering technique to help the bike absorb some road impacts away from the rider. The company describes this technique as micro-suspension. I agree it does a fantastic job for a rigid-suspension bike that's just over $1000.
The thoughtful addition of a full carbon fork to the frameset helps keep the bike light and comfortable. This bike is made for people who aren't avid riders and don't often find themselves taking apart and cleaning their bikes on weekends.
Even casual riders will appreciate the reliable Tektro HD-R280 hydraulic disc, which is true to this bike's entry-level persona and will provide all the stopping power you'll need on all the 18 gears of the bike.
The Schwalbe Spicer 700x35c tires aren't the most durable and seem more susceptible to punctures on the road, but they are of decent-enough style and quality not to warrant a replacement within the first week of riding.
However, the internally routed cabled running through the frameset does make upgrading or customizing the bike further down the line a pain. This is primarily because of the not-so-impressive Shimano Altus/ Acera groupset and the 9-speed, 11-34 Sunrace cassette.
Don't get us wrong, there's nothing wrong with any of these components. Still, once you start clocking more than 10k miles, you might start seeing the need for an upgrade of the Tange cartridge bottom bracket and the other components that might be screaming at you then.
Lastly, I love to see an affordable bike with a functional wheel sensor to help you monitor your riding speed and help you to keep track of your riding distance. The bike's flat bar and upright geometry are ideal for riding around town, but I found it a bit bothersome for longer rides.
6. Giant ToughRoad SLR 2
When have you ever gone wrong with a Giant bike? If you are entirely new to cycling, just know that you can never go wrong with a bike from Giant.
The company doesn't only produce solid budget bikes; it also produces bikes reliable bikes that walk the line between entry-level and mid-level hybrids like the ToughRoad SLR 2.
The metallic black SLR 2 is not only made to look minimalist and sleek because it has the Aluxx SLR-Grade aluminum frame that Giant totes as being of professional-grade quality.
The Aluxx frame is noteworthy not because it's some futuristic 6011 aluminum alloy but because of the manufacturing technique used by Giant to bring to market an almost uniform frame with greater rigidity while being as lightweight as possible.
While the bike is around the same price as the Cannondale Quick Disk 3, it has an overall combination of components that perform better and are better utilized.
The groupset is also a mixture of Shimano's entry-level components (Alivio, Acera, and Altus) but has the rest of the bike's components being mostly Shimano.
The choice to keep most of the components Shimano, even if they fall under the Shimano's basic tier, seems to have elevated the bike's reliability and durability.
Even casual riders that prefer to cruise instead of exercise on their bike will notice the smoothness of the gears and swift feedback from the Shimano BL-MT201 hydraulic disc brakes.
Although the 700x50c Giant Sycamore S tires aren't the fastest rolling lot on the road, they complement the contact comfort neutral saddle to help keep your back and behind comfortable for longer.
7. Boardman Hybrid 8.8
Boardman has thrown its patrons for a loop with the lunar-sized 10-speed, 11-46t Shimano Deore cassette paired with a single 44t crank up front.
The wide spread at the back goes low enough to allow for some challenging ascents and high enough to pick up some speed on flat ground.
However, some people might not like that the spacing between gears is so far apart. But, the singular chainring is not only a novice-proof approach but also a welcomed simplification.
Unlike some similarly priced hybrids, the Hyb 8.8 has all its cables hanging out. So, the single shifter up front simplifies clutter from cables on the clean-looking cockpit.
I don't even have to explain how cheaper it is to maintain a bike with external cables. The whole integrated cabling business is a double-edged sword anyway.
The Hyb 8.8 has a seamless triple-butted 6061 aluminum frame with invisible welds. If it weren't for the external cabling, this bike's beauty would rival some of the model road bikes out there.
The already light frameset is completed by its usual full carbon fork companion.
The completed bike weighs around 22.04 pounds because of the intelligent selection of where the frame needs to be thick (the triple-butted manufacturing), the single chainring, and the carbon fork.
The Schwalbe Citizen 700 x 35c tires have some Kevlar guard for added puncture resistance and are comfortable on the road without being overly attached. They aren't wide enough to be trusted on the more rugged offroad paths, but they can handle a little bit of the old dusty road.
The flat bars and geometry of the bike don't promote the most upright riding position conducive to cruising. But, the combination does help with speed when you want to unwind and let the wind comb back your hair.
The 10-speed Shimano Deore groupset is enjoyable and performs more than you'll probably need for those casual cruises.
I was disappointed that the entire Hyb range now ships with different handlebars and stems because the original integrated handlebar and stem combination was sleek and stylish.
Fortunately, it now means you can customize and swap in a stem of your length. On paper, the bike is slower for the change, but you shouldn't notice much on the road.
Finally, Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes are happy on the 160 mm rotors and might even be overkill for leisurely cruises.
8. Specialized Roll Low-Entry
Specialized's 2020 Roll Low-Entry meets all the criteria for the best bikes for casual cruising. The step-through frame and geometry is inviting for the whole family, the wheels are confident, and the entire build is a spectacle to rival the setting sun.
The Roll's frameset is practically a single solid A1 Premium aluminum concoction with craftily formed tubes. The welding would look unsightly and blocky if it weren't for the uniquely reflective paint job glistening in the sun.
The Roll gets the suffix modifier in its name because of the step-through frame, which lets you easily place a foot on the ground without much effort. Saddling up and dismounting is a breeze.
On the matter of saddles, the Roll's saddle is a generously wide Body Geometry saddle affably named "The Cup." It has a shallow groove running a reasonable length of its spine, which gives that long-oppressed tailbone some due relief.
I was also quite pleased with the 650b x 2.3 inch Nimbus II Sport tires, as first-hand testers found them to be exceptional rollers even over roads with some loose pebbles.
The tires also have a nifty inflation gauge integrated into the bike's valve caps. The 40 mm valve changes the indicator on the valve cap to green when the pressure in the Schrader tubes is just right for making some donuts.
The Roll's speed isn't the fastest, but it still wears all the necessary caps: supportive fitness companion, laid-back commuter, and utilitarian cruiser. The 7-speed Shimano HG200 12-32t cassette is the unapologetic proof of those qualities.
Of course, the Shimano Tourney rear derailleur isn't the smoothest, quietest, or most accurate, but it does a commendable job for day-to-day sunset stalking. You won't be overly impressed with the Tektro V-brakes, but you won't be overtly disgruntled.
For $535, I'd say you get a bit more than you'd expect with the Roll. If it's not the 30-plus pounds in material, it's the Specialized craftsmanship.
9. Marin Larkspur 2
The Larkspur 2 is far from lackluster. A bit of a tongue twister for you for a bike that wraps all the best bits from hybrid bikes to modern mixte rides. Marin's Larkspur 2 has a beautifully put-together Series 2 butted Chromoly and Chromoly steel frameset.
The frame is a carpets-out mixte low-step design which creates a low step-over height. This style means that both the top and down tubes are parallel, angling down from the head tube down to the seat post and bottom bracket.
It's not only the frame that makes the bike look like a cruiser without any setbacks; the alloy swept-back handlebars contribute their considerable share. The plush saddle and general geometry produce a comfortably upright riding position.
The 27.5x2.35 inch Vee tires are large and wide enough to make up good ground with every roll without succumbing to roads lacking upkeep. They are also knobby enough to allow you to enjoy meandering offroad properly.
A bike with a base cost of $1,199 could weigh less than the 31-ish pounds of this one. It's not the most value-for-buck purchase, but it is one of the aptest for varied fun.
The 11-speed SunRace 11-51t cassette pairs well with the Shimano Deore 11-speed single crankset for an extended gear range that'll be there for you in whatever galavanting situation tickles your fancy.
Shimano Deore components show what the higher-tier Shimano parts have to offer. They appear to do just that on the Larkspur 2. The hydraulic brakes are a prime example of Shimano's performance. They provide good feedback and proper modulation, and the stopping power is on point.
To top it all off, the Larkspur 2 has plenty of mounts. You can accessorize the bike with a kickstand, fenders, and racks. Unfortunately, the tire clearance is a little stingy, so mudguards appear to be a no-go.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson